“Cat Ladies” Documentary Film Explores the Deeper Emotions Behind Extreme Cat Ownership

Mon, Jul 13, 2009


I know that Moderncat is supposed to be the antidote for all things “crazy cat lady,” but there is a new documentary I have to share with you that takes a closer look at this stereotype, exploring the deep emotions behind cat ownership. Cat Ladies debuted last month at the Silverdocs Film Festival in Washington, D.C. The film profiles four cat ladies, creating “a sensitive and emotionally honest portrait of women whose lives and self-worth have become intractably linked to cats.”

Not all of the women in the film have hundreds of cats. One woman only has three. However, it’s not the number of cats, but rather the obsessive attachment to them, that is being explored.  Ultimately, the documentary uncovers the universal issues of alienation, loss, and loneliness that we all face.

The trailer above is enough to make me want to see the whole film. You can also read an interview with the film’s director, Christie Callan-Jones on the Silverdocs website. I can’t track down much information about distribution of the film. Keep an eye on the film’s website for more details.

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30 Responses to ““Cat Ladies” Documentary Film Explores the Deeper Emotions Behind Extreme Cat Ownership”

  1. 1

    WOW thanks SO much for sharing this…it sounds incredibly interesting…wonder if its on DVD yet…Thanks!

  2. 2

    I find this very interesting and would like to see the film too.
    I see some of myself in these ladies,as I have 4 cats,and 3 big dogs…. my daughter would agree I’m a crazy animal person.LOL

  3. 3
    Anlina Sheng

    I definitely want to see this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 4

    I’ve reached that age where cat ownership puts me in the “crazy cat lady” category, and I identify as such proudly. I own one cat, and will probably stick with one b/c she doesn’t like other cats. If the criteria for catlady-hood is a preference for cat company over humans and undue consideration of cat needs in arranging my home, then count me in.
    Pet ownership crosses into hoarder territory when the owner no longer takes care of the pets, the house, or her/himself. Like crazy catlady-hood, it’s not a question of how many cats are owned. I couldn’t tell enough from the short description on the webpage whether the film examines hoarding behavior or whether any of the women profiled are true hoarders.
    This sounds like a great film. Thanks for pointing it out to us.

  5. 5

    I’m facinated and would be very interested in seeing the full documentary. Could I be a crazy cat lady in the making? I hope so.

  6. 6

    Hi Ladies,

    Just came across this post…thanks so much for your interest in the film!

    If you’d like to be on the mailing list and receive alerts about the Cat Ladies documentary (on DVD soon!) and related merch, you can go here: http://www.catladiesdoc.com/contact.html


    Cat Lady Erin

  7. 7

    Thanks for sharing this … it does look interesting, and I’ll keep an eye out for it. However, I also find it a bit depressing. The loneliness of the ladies is palpable, and I wonder about the health issues in these cases … both for the kitties and their human. It is unfathomable to me that we live in a society where those most marginalized (animals, the elderly, women without families) have to take care of each other in a way.

    That being said I’ve got 3 kitties and a dog (all rescues) and might have more if my husband would allow it … though I’ve come to realize you just can’t save them all. I live in a partly suburban/ partly agricultural community and we have a lot of feral cat colonies. We also have a lot of people who are totally ignorant about how to treat animals (eg, lots of dogs who spend their whole lives in a backyard). I’m about to start donating time and money to care for the ferals, but realize their suffering is not high on most peoples’ agendas.

  8. 8
    Lauren Dees

    I found this on the cat ladies site:

    Just In:

    Cat Ladies invited to Silverdocs (June 15 – 22, 2009)

    TVO will be broadcasting Cat Ladies – Wed Sep 23 at 10pm, repeating that same week on Sun Sep 27 at approximately 10:30pm, as well as late night Tues Sep 29/early morning Wed Sep 30 at 1:00am.

  9. 9
    Lauren Dees

    I think I found the movie site! It says it has a 60 minute runtime, so I’m going to watch in now.

  10. 10

    Thank you so much for sharing this information and a big “Hello” to all the fellow “Cat Ladies” and Cat People” out there.

  11. 11

    I would love to see this whole film. People there is a big difference between cat rescue and hoarders. I am a ACO who owns cats and other pets. My home is not filthy and all of my animals see their vet regularly. I also work closely with a cat rescue and I have seen my share of cat hoarders. Rescues alter, test and give shots to their cats, hoarders generally cannot afoord to do this. I am also a wife who has a life. I do not do this because I am lonely. I do this for the love of animals.

  12. 12

    One of them says “crazy is leaving a cat outside to freeze and die of hunger, that’s crazy!!!!” If people were nicer to animals in general and if they where all responsable people, there woulnd’t be any crazy cat or dog ladies around.

  13. 13

    I am looking forward to seeing this movie. I think that the care of the cats is what matters and not the numbers. Also the personalities of the caregivers has to be taken into account and the different ones in the clip come through very strongly.

    The biggest disppointment was the ignorance of one of the ACOs who was foolish enough to claim that it was better to leave the cats outside then to rescue them and give them a home. Hasn’t this man ever read the literature on the death rate of feral cars. They have short life spans due to getting hit by cars, car fights, poisoning, starvation, freezing to death, etc. This man calls himself a professional? I think better training is needed here.

  14. 14

    I liked Leelu’s comment above, and the lady in the film calling into question the mental/emotional wellbeing of those who abandon and abuse cats. I agree wholeheartedly, and I do believe this extremely dysfunctional society marginalizes, accuses, derides, and even vilifies those who attempt to asymmetrically shoulder the responsibility and caring that should be shared by ALL (and would be, in a sane and caring society). In a healthy society, none of the vulnerable, the helpless, or the needy would BE left out to be easy prey or casualties. Everyone would care, and everyone would consider it their moral/ethical duty to help. Sadly, this society is about as far from that as it is possible to go.

  15. 15

    Wow…sounds like an affecting and moving film. I’d really like to see this. Thanks so much for posting.

  16. 16

    I am a volunteerr with a cat rescue, we are a system of foster homes. We adopt out the cats and kittens that are brought into our ssystem.These cats are all spayed or neutered before adoptin. Hoarders we are not and we all have full lives with families and friends.

  17. 17

    I really enjoyed the trailer. I agree that these women’s loneliness is real and moving, and I think that the way they handled it is more dignified and responsible than most other ways.

    However, 150+ cats looks like irresponsible hoarding to me. I understand the will to save all those cats, but that’s not what is archieved when you put all those cats in a small space. I won’t draw the line at a number, but I’d say: when you can’t name each of your cats, it’s hoarding. It’s much more horrible than regular hoarding, because it’s about living beings, but it’s also something I can understand more easily, because I also want to save suffering cats.

  18. 18

    I definately want to see this. It looks to be very moving. Not sure what my chances of seeing it all will be, here in Australia, though.

  19. 19

    It’s funny cause I actually know the red headed french lady in that documentary! I really want to see this now!

  20. 20

    Having been a breeder who loves cat, I see nothing wrong with taking in strays and caring for them in a responsible way. If they receive not only love, but medical care, why not? If it causes no harm to other, why not do what you can.

    I know we cannot take care of them all, but even if we just adopt one or two, have them altered, we have accomplished something to be proud of.

    I would like to see the rest of the film too.

  21. 21
    marge guenther

    I am anothr crazy cat lady and would love to see the entire story on the cats. I am a retired siamese cat breeder and have a few of my own and currently 6 rescues.

  22. 22

    Incredible, you can tell the documentary is going to be really well done and informative – while remaining completely interesting and NOT boring! I can not wait to see the entire thing. Being a giant fan of docs anyway, as a vet student alone and animals being my passion this has needless to say piqued my interest! Thanks moderncat!

  23. 23

    IMO the Humane Society of the United “Cats Indoors Campaign” has killed
    and stressed more cats than few other campaigns levied against companion animals. These ladies are just buying into the hype that outdoor cats live short miserable lives.

    Having provided TNR services for almost 10 years and after running a 5 year feral and barn cat s/n program none of the above is true about outside access cats, feral or barn cats. If cats could not successfully live outside on their own we would not be over run with outdoor cats world wide.

    I find it an insult to the “cat” that they are treated like children who can not care for themselves. Cats do very well in very warm weather outdoors since they were originally desert animals. Cats survive in the south pole and other ice covered land masses. Cats are resourceful, seek out warm dry spots to sleep and will buddies in large groups to keep all members of a colony warm. Our supplemental feedings just make a little easier for them.

    Taking feral and barn cats off the land and holding them hostage and stressed in doors is cruel and just wrong. They also steal others cats.
    TNR ladies.

  24. 24

    It’s a catch 22 because feral and stray cats generally live about 3-5 years on the street or out in rural areas. There are exceptions some live longer I know. I have done TNR for over 10 years and have volunteered in a barn cat program. When the cats live in crowded indoor conditions, even clean ones, they can die early from things like Felv, FIV, FIP and kidney failure brought on by mouth infections. People who care for lots of cats can sink quicky into debt having to pay for constant vet bills. Dental work on a cat can cost an average of $200 and that’s if they don’t need a lot of teeth pulled then the cost really goes up. Mouth problems are common in multi-cat households where lots of cats are sharing the same water bowls. People start collecting cats off the street because someone is threatening to trap or poison them. Rescue groups are usually overcrowded with cats and can’t take in more when people like this get into financial trouble. It’s the cats I feel most sorry for they are completely blameless. This country will not invest in spaying and neutering programs which would help bring an end to this problem. How many more years we will just keep killing cats and their offspring instead of fixing them before they breed?

  25. 25

    jmuhj, your message was beautifully written. I hope more people will listen up and start caring enough to do something about this. We have the ability and the means to put an end to the overpopulation of homeless cats. We just have to have the will.


  26. 26

    Hmm, I’m actually alarmed by this documentary. I was all set to send to to the other cat activists I know until I actually watched it.

    As someone who has worked on animal protection issues for years I find this video filled with what I would call “loving, but cat loony folk” (a term, I realize, that is not very scientific nor respectful).

    As a lover of cats, mother of two kits, and godmother to many more that I’ve physically rescued from the street, these women don’t represent me or anyone I’d like to be. Finding homes for animals is wonderful, but turning it into a fetish or having more than any person can care for is disturbing, Situations are particular of course, but these ladies seem like are they treading deeply into “hoarding” territory.

    Many animals need homes, but turning them into collector items is not the solution.


  1. [...] Moderncatista trailerin Cat Ladies -dokumentista. Jo traileri antaa hyvän kuvan siitä, miksi kaksi kissaa [...]

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  3. [...] This documentary about “extreme cat ownership” sounds intriguing. I guess that’s the gender neutral description for cat ladies now?! [...]

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